Product Liability

ATV rollovers contribute to Nebraska farming injuries and deaths

Prompted by the accidental death of a former Nebraska state senator and lifelong farmer, Omaha’s World-Herald published a report about the dangers of farming. The profession, which is a way of life in the rural state, is also one of the most dangerous in the United States, the World-Herald points out, thanks in part to all-terrain vehicles and their propensity to crash.

“Tractors and all-terrain vehicles that can roll over. Machines with fast-moving parts that can tear off a limb. Animals that can gore, crush or bite. Chemicals that emit toxic fumes,” the article begins, underscoring the dangers that threaten Nebraska’s farmers every working day.

Dan Neenan, manager of the National Center for Agricultural Safety in Iowa, told the World-Herald that the number of agricultural injuries and fatalities could be drastically reduced if tractors were equipped with a rollover protection system and seat belts. Tractor rollovers have been the leading cause of death on Nebraska’s farms for many years.

As with tractors, rollovers are a serious problem with ATVs, especially those with narrow track widths and high centers of gravity, such as the Yamaha Rhino. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to investigate reports of Rhino rollovers because so many of them appear to happen on level ground and at low speeds.

ATVs can become even more unstable when used for more utilitarian purposes, such as farming. Neenan told the World-Herald that “farmers also need to remember that attaching equipment to ATVs, such as sprayers or hay-bale racks, changes ATVs’ center of gravity and makes them unstable.”

The report notes that the number of deaths and injuries involving ATVs is increasing. In Nebraska, six people were killed in ATV accidents this year, and half of those were farming related.